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The Pasadena Recovery Center will be hosting clinical psychologist, educator, author and LGBTQ activist Dr. Lauren Costine at its January Expert Speaker Series on Wednesday, January 27, 2016, starting at 12 noon.

The monthly series, which is free and open to the public, brings in community leaders and addiction experts to educate Pasadena residents, alumni and staff, and provide a “unique educational setting that helps differentiate PRC from other facilities,” says the PRC announcement on its website.

Dr. Costine published her first book, “Lesbian Love Addiction: Understanding the Urge to Merge and What to Do When Things Go Wrong,” in November 2015. In the book, she encourages readers to develop an understanding of how to view traditional psychotherapy through a lesbian-affirmative lens in order to help themselves or their lesbian clients toward recovery from love addiction.

“I wrote it for two reasons,” Costine says. “Basically, first of all, because I’m in recovery for love addiction myself and I’m a lesbian. And so when I was out reading all the books that are available – Pia Mellody, Kelly McDaniel, Peabody, anyone I get my hands on – and it was all heterosexually oriented. It was always he/she and it was speaking to basically the heterosexual woman. At the time, I was desperate enough that I was like ‘I’ll read all this,’ but we have to translate and it’s not totally applying to me and I don’t feel mirrored, I don’t feel seen because my story is not there.”

Costine relates she had some discussions with another author, Robert Weiss who wrote “Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men,” and both agreed there was a need for her to write her own book, because love addiction is “pretty prevalent in the lesbian community even though it’s not well-known at all.” She also admits her reasons for writing the book were both professional and personal.

“Even though things are getting much better and, really, the last ten years have been remarkable, we’re still dealing with thousands of years of repression and discrimination and shaming and invisibility and hiding, and all kinds of things that has still impacted our community,” Costine says. “So for lesbians – we have a small community and we tend to what we call the ‘urge to merge,’ we tend to kind of couple very quickly – I wanted to educate them about the dangerous of that, how it has helped help me, how there’s healthier ways to get involve in a long term loving relationship, and how a lot of lesbians have this kind of addiction and they have no idea that they do.”

Costine says she has not been told what kind of audience she will be facing on Wednesday, but says she’ll speak to both the clinician mind and the average listener as well, including lesbians and gay men and their families, whom she encourages to be there at the PRC event.

She will be discussing what she calls the “psycho-educational” setting and the reasons that lead to love addiction and how early personal attachments would impact romantic relationships later in life. She also promises to include stories in her book that relate to the average person’s search for answers and guidance.

“If you’re having any issues in finding a partner in your relationships – you find yourself cycling through relationships and they don’t last very long, you find yourself pre-occupied with wanting to find somebody, you find yourself having a difficult time being alone – all of these kinds of signs and symptoms and that it really is impacting your life, and it really is making you feel bad about yourself, this is the talk to come to,” Costine says. “There’ll be a lot of answers, there’ll be a lot of ways to start seeing new things about yourself and it will bring some awareness and some understanding of why you may be suffering in this way, and then there’ll be some answers as to what you can do to make things better.”

Dr. Costine is currently Chief Clinician of Convalo Health, Inc. and the founder of The LGBT-Affirmative Track of Convalo’s BLVD Treatment Centers – a collection of outpatient addiction treatment centers whose flagship facility in Hollywood was opened in April 2014.

She received her M.A. in Psychology at Antioch University Los Angeles in 2001 and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in 2007.

Costine played a pivotal role in the development and management of The LGBT Specialization in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University Los Angeles, one of the first such programs of its kind in the country. She created and co-created such courses as LGBT History and Myth, Human Sexuality, Lesbian Love & Liberation and Community Action.

Pasadena Recovery Center Groundbreaking Speaker Series Features Dr. Lauren Costine

To attend PRC’s Expert Speaker Series, call

(626) 389-9730 or send an email to

The Pasadena Recovery Center is at 1811 N Raymond Avenue in Pasadena.

  • Dr. Lauren D. Costine

My first experience of shame came in the aftermath of my parents’ divorce at the age of eight. At the time we lived in Côte d’Ivoire, in West Africa, where people considered divorce a taboo, something only Westerners did. I felt so ashamed about my parents’ divorce I lied to the neighborhood kids, telling them my father’s business travel kept him away for long periods. I invented a new, more desirable me, and discarded my true self as worthless.

I spent the remainder of my childhood and much of my young adulthood hiding that true self, and as a result falling into a deep and chronic depression. After years of psychotherapy, antidepressants, and deep self-inquiry work, I conquered my depression. This feat, though obviously beneficial, left me confused about my identity. I didn’t know the difference between my real self and my depressed self. I felt restless and incomplete. I sensed life had a deeper purpose, but I failed to grasp it.

So began an arduous spiritual quest for my life’s purpose. This journey included more years of self-inquiry and more therapy, and I learned I needed to rid myself of shame if I wanted to live authentically—which I saw as the key to fulfillment. In my case, the process of resolving shame happened in four phases.

The first phase, which lasted almost a year, deepened my awareness of personal shame as I acknowledged how it diminished me. In the second phase, I started to free myself from shame by recognizing how social beliefs about love and self-worth blocked me from my Essential Self. In the third and longest phase, I accessed my Essential Self by cultivating each of five elements (see below, “Access Your Essential Self”). Once I integrated these, I reached the final phase: I began to live authentically, healed of shame. I now live a richer, more meaningful life.

During my final year in graduate school I did an experiment to see if my process could help others. For five weeks, five participants (myself included) applied this process to see if we could indeed heal shame and live more authentically. To my delight, the process helped.

Phase 1: We spent time tracking shame events in our journals to detect patterns in how shame shows up,. One participant, Sheila, recorded how she got badly triggered whenever someone told her to be quiet. Feeling dismissed, she hid herself from others for several days. In contrast, two other participants—Max and Sarah—closely observed their triggers and managed to avoid any significant episodes of shame.

Phase 2: We took a step back by examining shame as something separate from us. Shame originates from widespread social beliefs about what it means to be worthy of love. One of those beliefs treats shame as innate and, therefore, impossible to heal. Another convinces us we don’t deserve a good life because of our imagined fundamental defects. These toxic beliefs eat away at us and keep us stuck. Sheila, for example, believed she could only manage her shame, and Sarah believed shame came built into her DNA. The truth is that we can dissolve the pain of shame by changing our beliefs. By objectifying shame we can distance ourselves from its effects. By discussing the concept of shame, and not just our personal experience of it, we see how we respond to emotional triggers—and see that we could choose differently. Vulnerability held a key—allowing others to see us during our weakest moments helped us see ourselves.

Phase 3: We turned our attention to the Essential Self. All humans possess these five elements: ancestry, personality, archetypes, core values, and deep wounding. Like fingerprints, the blending pattern of these elements makes us unique—creating our individual essence. Essential Self differs greatly from any idealized version of self. Unlike the ego’s version, our true self encompasses our whole being, warts and all.

Just becoming aware of our Essential Self helps to liberate it. As Sarah put it, “I have worn a suit of armor my entire life to protect myself from feeling hurt, embarrassment, or shame. I now have a different perspective. This armor did not protect me from the outside world; instead, it just shielded me from my Essential Self.”

Phase 4: The final challenge was to feel and express this newfound essence all the time. The best way to do this, we decided, involved some sort of ongoing spiritual practice. We could practice living authentically by doing something simple and practical to remind us of our Essential Self. Access Your Essential Self

To help each member of our group emerge from the stifling blanket of shame, we examined our individual tapestries created by the five elements of our Essential Self.

1. Ancestry grounds us, gives us a sense of historical continuity, and offers clues to our inherited cultural and familial shame that doesn’t “belong” to us. For example, Sarah’s father felt great shame about his Filipino heritage, which he then passed along to his children. Sarah discovered some of the shame she carried came from her father.

2. Personality brings the skills or tools we need to do our life’s work, and we used the Enneagram model to help unpack our special gifts. My Type 2 personality, The Helper, embodies traits such as a high capacity for empathy, a kind heart, friendliness, and a strong desire to help people. These traits come in handy in my spiritual healing work.

3. Archetypes connect us to the collective unconscious. First theorized by Carl Jung, these mythic characters predispose us to perceive the world in certain ways depending on which mythic character we embody.

4. Core values motivate us. When we imagine the future a hundred years from now, most of us want people to fondly remember us according to our core values or principles. For example, my core values include wisdom and authenticity. To express my Essential Self, I must embody these values as much as possible in my relationships.

5. Deep wounding serves as a springboard for our core values. When properly addressed and integrated, these wounds increase our capacity for empathy. As we heal, the lessons we learn can help heal the world. My wounding, for example, involved feeling unimportant, alone, and abandoned. As a result, I now possess a greater capacity for empathy, building connections, and recognizing people’s gifts.

“How Living Authentically Heals Shame” by Djenaba Dioum Kelly was originally published on Spirituality & Health. To view the original article, click here.

BY Djenaba Dioum Kelly

  • Dr. Lauren D. Costine

Come join Dr. Lauren Costine as she gives insight into lesbian love addiction at her book signing at Book Soup Jan. 17th

Event date:

Sunday, January 17, 2016 - 4:00pm

Event address:

Book Soup 8818 Sunset Boulevard West Hollywood, CA 90069

Everyone makes mistakes in relationships at one time or another. Sometimes they learn from those mistakes. Other times, they return to those behaviors and cycle through failed relationship after failed relationship. Sometimes those behaviors become an addiction to love that may leave a person feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, lonely, or worse. Lesbian Love Addiction: Understanding the Urge to Merge and How to Heal When Things go Wrong makes visible the elements of love addiction that many lesbians suffer from.

To visit the book soup event page click this link

​Lauren has cracked the code to why so many of my family, friends and clients attach the way they do – in spite of the results. She then prescribes a new way of doing that is understandable and actionable. Brava!” — Brad Lamm, CIP, Founder of Breathe Life Healing Centers; Author of How to Help the One You Love“

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